At Christ Church JCR’s general meeting on 12th December, a motion was passed with 56% of the vote to replace meat-eating with vegetarianism as the default diet, thus requiring meat eaters to apply for a diet card.
This motion, proposed by Zac Lumley and seconded by Amy Rizzo, who is also the food representative in the Christ Church JCR, comes as a response to environmental concerns. Lumley explained in his opening speech for the motion that as a centre of learning, Christ Church should be doing everything it can to mitigate our impact on the climate crisis, and that going vegetarian is a good way to do this. He maintained, however, that because some people may not be able to switch to a vegetarian diet for health reasons, meat eaters can still request a diet card.
Lumley, when approached for comment, told The Oxford Blue that “the proximate aim was to reduce meat consumption at Christ Church. The main aim however was to change the narrative around Christ Church’s relationship with climate action,” adding that “universities produce vast amounts of research on the climate emergency but have failed to act on their own findings. This motion actively challenges a status quo that cannot remain.” When asked what impact he anticipated the motion having, he remarked, “given the psychology behind default-based interventions, I believe that more JCR members will adopt a vegetarian diet. More importantly however, I hope that this will encourage junior members to consider other aspects of our politico-economic and cultural systems that are actively harmful, and consider ways in which they can move beyond individual action.”
As a college, the Christ Church undergraduate population has around 60 vegetarians and 30 vegans of an onsite college body of around 400 students. While this is the minority, there is hope that making vegetarianism the default option may encourage reducing the consumption of meat amongst non-vegetarian students.
The passing of this motion at Christ Church comes after, last month, the Oxford Student Union passed a motion to lobby for a ban on beef and lamb in University Catering Services, with 78% voting for the motion. This was done for a similar environmental purpose as the students behind the motion had hoped it would help decrease the University’s greenhouse emissions as a whole.
Despite this, a motion to increase meat-free nights in Hall to three times a week was rejected with 59% of attendees voting against the motion.